Action Learning Sets: Improving projects with a little help from your friends

Marathon Finish LineI’m just staggering over the finishing line at the end of a marathon round of residential education conferences in which a nine-day burst saw me attending the Higher Education Academy STEM conference (#HEASTEM2013), the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on Tools for Evaluating Teaching (#SEBTET13) and the Heads of University BioSciences Spring Meeting (#HUBSSM2013). It will be months before I’ve had time to ruminate on all the various new ideas that emerged, directly or indirectly, from these sessions. This post will focus on just one “quick win” which I picked up from the middle event. In a short session, Peter Lumsden from the University of Central Lancashire modelled the use of an Action Learning Set for sharpening up the design of an educational research project. Continue reading

Anonymous data and educational research

Comparing 'before' and 'after' data needs some identification

When undertaking educational research you often want to know how an intervention has affected a cohort, and ideally to be able to drill down into the data to see the impact on individuals. In order to match pre-and post- activity surveys, some kind of identifier is required. You could ask the students to put their names on the forms, but they may have concerns that this will have ramifications for their coursework. What else you could do?

There are a range of semi-anonymised labels you could use. At various times in my own work I’ve used formal candidate number, email username and date of birth (the latter often throws up more than one student with the same date, but handwriting can then distinguish). In each of these cases, however, it remains a relatively trivial step for someone with access to the right databases to decode the label and convert it into a name. Of course there is generally no reason why a researcher would want to do this, and students trust that you are not going to waste your precious time doing so.

What else might you do? You could ask the students to pick a bogus name or their favourite superhero, but these run several risks – including having surveys completed multiple “lady gaga”s or “dr [insert your name here]”. The students might also forget the random name they picked between the first and the second test. Continue reading

Discussing pedagogic research in Edinburgh

Freshly returned from the excellent Effective Learning in the Biosciences event at Edinburgh, I include below a poster that Jon Scott and I presented about our monthly Bioscience PedR meetings. Click on image to see larger version.

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  • August 2019
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